House of Commons sitting through the night — Here's Why!

Ted Hsu
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Are you concerned that the Conservative majority government is:

  • raising from 65 to 67 years old, the age of eligibility for Old Age Security? Or,
  • integrating Canadian and American maritime police forces? Or,
  • repealing fair wage legislation? Or,
  • eliminating protection for fish habitat? Or,
  • completely replacing the Environmental Assessment Act and repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act? Or,
  • throwing away 99,000 skilled-worker immigration applications? Or,
  • eliminating the oversight of the inspector general for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service? Or,
  • removing foreign ownership restrictions on small telecommunications companies? Or,
  • changing the Bank Act, the Seed Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and the Parks Canada Act?

Would you want your elected Member of Parliament to look into these, consult with experts, report back to you and give you a chance to voice your opinion before these changes are enacted?

Would you be annoyed to know that all of these things, and much more, were being squeezed into one budget bill, and pushed through parliament with limited time for debate, no time for testimony from expert witnesses for each issue?

Isn’t this bad for democracy because your elected MP has a harder time keeping tabs on the majority government and what they are doing to you?

If you answered Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes, wouldn’t you want your MP to take a stand?


Well, that is what the Liberal Party, the Green Party and the NDP are doing, by insisting that the majority government simply cut out the non-budget items from bill C-38, and put them in their separate bills so that they can be studied properly. “Budget” Bill C-38 is considered the largest “omnibus” budget bill ever presented to the House of Commons at over 400 pages in length, affecting over 60 Acts and covering topics far outside normal budget bills.


Our only weapon in this majority parliament to try to get this concession is to cause discomfort for Conservative MPs, and endure the same discomfort on our side of the House, by forcing a recorded vote on hundreds of amendments. The 164 MPs of the Conservative majority are forced to be present to vote against amendments, lest the majority government lose any votes on the “budget” bill to the united opposition parties.


Why is it possible to have so many amendments? Simply put, because the bill itself is so lengthy and covers so many different topics.


We’re forcing MPs to be in their seats for about 24 hours straight. To avoid this, all we want the majority government to do is separate out the non-budget parts of C-38 into a separate bill.


The Liberal Party is not trying to stall. In the Senate, Liberals made a deal — start work on Bill C-38 by hearing witnesses right now, even before C-38 passes the House and, in return, all relevant Senate Committees (e.g. the committees that cover energy, environment, public safety, immigration, fisheries, and so on) study the bill, so that parliament gets a chance to hear expert witnesses in front of many different Senate committees. In the House, because this is a “budget” bill, only the finance committee (and an ad hoc subcommittee on environment) heard testimony from witnesses. We are lucky to have the Senate working on bill C-38.


Now that you know why, please explain to your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours why I will be voting on roughly 150 groups of amendments to bill C-38 all night Wednesday, into Thursday evening. Please explain to other Canadians what we are doing on parliament hill, and why it is important to stand on guard for Canadian democracy. If people don’t speak up, our actions on Wednesday and Thursday will have no lasting effect.